Notes from PASS 2013

It’s Wednesday morning, October 16, and Quentin Clark, Vice President of Data Platform,  is on stage here at the PASS Global Summit in Charlotte, NC, giving the keynote presentation.  Highlights include:

SQL Server 2014 CTP2, the public preview, is released today

This release of SQL Server enables “Hekaton”, in-memory transactional capabilities that will speed up certain transactions by orders of magnitude (up to 100x in some cases.)  This enhances the in-memory column store index features that were introduced in SQL Server 2012.  According to Quentin SQL Server is light years ahead of any competitor using in-memory database technology.

Hekaton not only enables star schema queries to run very fast using read-only column store indexes but data and indexes can be rebuilt and updated in real time.

Of course, I’ll be paying close attention to announcements about BI capabilities that are not necessary encompassed in the SQL Server 2014 package.  I’ll posy those announcements here.

Quentin said: “BI is not only for the High Priests of IT but should be for the people running the business”


Thursday Keynote

Current President, Bill Graziano, announced the departure of PASS Directors; Douglas McDowel, Rob Farley and past President, Rushabh Mehta.  This was a bittersweet moment for these three respected leaders who have all been serving PASS for about 8 years.  Tom LaRock, the incoming PASS President, introduced David DeWitt; Techical Fellow from Microsoft.

David DeWitt explains the architecture of Hekaton…

Of course there are many technical details and complexity to the engine but the bottom line is that Hekaton runs completely without locks (or latches).  In SQL Server 2014, there are three different database storage and integrated query engines: relational, column store and Hekaton/InMemory.  A Hekaton table gets loaded into memory.  Multiple operations performed on the same row create multiple version copies of the same row, rather than placing locks on the rows.  The query engine reads the last row using a time stamp.  The garbage collector eventually removes outdated records.  Typical performance improvement is 20x.

Another key feature of Hekaton is the ability to compile stored procedures used on InMemory tables into native code.  There are three modes: Interpreted, Interop & Native.  Classic stored procs interpret procedure definitions.  Native mode procedures can have the instruction set reduced by about 3x and run much faster.  There are data type and structure restrictions (no XML).